The ACLU of Massachusetts is calling on the State Senate to restrict qualified immunity, ban dangerous police tactics, and press pause on government use of face surveillance technology.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts State Senate released a police reform and racial equity omnibus bill. The bill includes legislative proposals backed by the ACLU of Massachusetts; now, the organization is advocating for amendments that would strengthen key provisions of S.2800:
- Current bill language would not outright prohibit the use of force that killed George Floyd. Amendments 58 and 67, sponsored by Senators Welch and Eldridge, clarify that all police chokeholds are prohibited.
- There is no safe use for tear gas, and its use is internationally banned as a weapon of war. Amendment 65, sponsored by Senator Rausch, bans police use of tear gas and other chemical weapons.
- The limitations placed on no-knock warrants in S.2800 leave far too much room for the deadly practice to continue. Amendment 119, sponsored by Senator Hinds, bans no-knock warrants altogether.
- The bill includes a temporary statewide moratorium on government use of face surveillance technology. Amendment 64, sponsored by Senator Creem, strengthens this prohibition, extending it until the state enacts meaningful regulation.
“Across the country, people are demanding a complete shift in policing,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “This bill responds to that call to action, and the ACLU is grateful for the Senate’s leadership. Now, the bill must be passed in its strongest possible form to save lives, advance civil rights, and safeguard liberties.”
In addition to passing four amendments that would limit the power of police, the ACLU urges senators to maintain provisions in the bill that would limit qualified immunity and ensure that people have recourse when their rights are violated by police.